Sunday, 24 August 2014

New cluster homes to have more open spaces: URA

Revised guidelines aim to enhance common areas and add greenery
By Rachael Boon And Rennie Whang, The Straits Times, 23 Aug 2014

BUYERS of future cluster housing developments will no longer find their homes packed cheek by jowl.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has drawn up a new set of guidelines that aims to make cluster housing more spacious and greener.

Cluster housing, or strata landed housing estates, combines strata-titled houses with communal facilities and greenery similar to the amenities at private condominiums.

The move is in response to concerns that overly dense developments could lead to congestion and overcrowding.

The URA announced a new set of formulae to determine the maximum number of houses allowed in such developments. It said in a statement yesterday: "The new formulae will generally result in fewer units compared with the previous formulae."

The URA also announced new guidelines that aim to enhance cluster housing features such as common areas and facilities.

For instance, developers must set aside at least 45 per cent of land for communal open space, up from 30 per cent. Of this, a minimum 25 per cent must be for greenery on the ground, and up to 20 per cent can be used for communal facilities such as swimming pools and playgrounds.

The revised guidelines come into effect today, and take into account feedback from residents in landed housing estates.

"Such developments could inject a disproportionately large number of units, causing additional traffic and parking problems as well as creating a more congested living environment," the URA said, citing some feedback received.

Long-time Watten Rise resident William Tan, 58, who is semi-retired, lives opposite 59- unit Watten Residences, completed in 2012. The cluster home development replaced a block of low-rise flats, and he estimates that 20 per cent more residents are living there now than before.

He welcomed the new guidelines allowing for less built-up space and fewer residences, noting that Watten Residences' landscaping was "acceptable" and contributed to more greenery.

But he added: "I miss the convenience of the old development as it used to house a grocery shop. Now, I have to go to FairPrice in Coronation Plaza or Farrer Road."

Mr John Tasker, a permanent resident who lives in Toh Estate near Changi Airport, said fellow residents were delighted with the guidelines. The chief operating officer of a Chinese holding company has lived there for five years with his Singaporean family.

Mr Tasker, who is from Britain, and eight other residents have been working with the URA regarding concerns over recent cluster housing developments.

He said: "Several comments have come back to me that it's great news. We know there are several other locations within Toh Estate with potential for developments with high density."

SLP International research head Nicholas Mak said prices of individual cluster homes were likely to rise since each cluster housing site would yield fewer homes, and the homes may become bigger. Such factors could put these homes out of reach for the middle class, he added.

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